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Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences

Ryan M Bastle, Ian Maze
Chromatin-related phenomena regulate gene expression by altering the compaction and accessibility of DNA to relevant transcription factors, thus allowing every cell in the body to attain distinct identities and to function properly within a given cellular context. These processes occur not only in the developing central nervous system, but continue throughout the lifetime of a neuron to constantly adapt to changes in the environment. Such changes can be positive or negative, thereby altering the chromatin landscape to influence cellular and synaptic plasticity within relevant neural circuits, and ultimately behavior...
February 2019: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
J David Sweatt
This commentary reviews the concept of experience-dependent epigenetic modifications in the CNS as a core mechanism underlying individuality and individuation at the behavioral level. I use the term individuation to refer to the underlying neurobiological processes that result in individuality, with the discussion focusing on individuality of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral repertoire. The review describes recent work supporting the concept of neuroepigenetic mechanisms underlying individuation, possible roles of transgenerational effects, and implications for precision medicine...
February 2019: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Takashi Yamaguchi, Dayu Lin
Aggression is a crucial survival behavior: it is employed to defend territory, compete for food and mating opportunities, protect kin, and resolve disputes. Although widely differing in its behavioral expression, aggression is observed across many species. The neural substrates of aggression have been investigated for nearly a century and two highly conserved circuitries emerge as critical substrates for generating and modulating aggression. One circuitry centers on the medial hypothalamus. Activity of the medial hypothalamic cells closely correlates with attacks and can bi-directionally modulate aggressive behaviors...
December 2018: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Vincent Taschereau-Dumouchel, Ka-Yuet Liu, Hakwan Lau
The idea of targeting unconscious or implicit processes in psychological treatments is not new, but until recently it has not been easy to manipulate these processes without also engaging consciousness. Here we review how this is possible, using various modern cognitive neuroscience methods including a technique known as Decoded Neural-Reinforcement. We discuss the general advantages of this approach, such as how it can facilitate double-blind placebo-controlled studies, and minimize premature patient dropouts in the treatment of fear...
December 2018: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Michael S Fanselow
Life threatening situations as urgent as defending against a predator precludes the use of slow trial and error strategies. Natural selection has led to the evolution of a behavioral system that has 3 critical elements. 1) When it is activated it limits the behaviors available to the organism to a set of prewired responses that have proven over phylogeny to be effective at defense. 2) A rapid learning system, called Pavlovian fear conditioning, that has the ability to immediately identify threats and promote prewired defensive behaviors...
December 2018: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Jeansok J Kim, Min Whan Jung
Fear is considered an integral part of the brain's defensive mechanism that evolved to protect animals and humans from predation and other ecological threats. Hence, it is logical to study fear from the perspective of antipredator-survival behaviors and circuits by sampling a range of threatening situations that organisms are likely to encounter in the wild. In the past several decades, however, mainstream fear research has focused on the importance of associative learning; that is, how animals become frightened of innocuous cues as consequences of their contingent pairing with aversive events...
December 2018: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Nicole Petersen, Edythe D London
Mesolimbic dopaminergic function influences addiction through effects on reinforcement learning, decision-making, and impulsivity. This review covers sex differences in dopaminergic neurochemistry, their hormonal and genetic determinants, and how differences in dopaminergic tone interact with sex and/or ovarian hormone status to affect cognitive functions. Findings from research on cigarette smoking reveal sex differences in striatal and midbrain dopamine D2-type receptor availability and striatal dopamine release that suggest mechanisms of nicotine dependence, and stronger subjective responses to nicotine and efficacy of nicotine replacement therapies in male smokers than in their female counterparts...
October 2018: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Annaliese K Beery
The underrepresentation of female subjects in animal research has gained attention in recent years, and new NIH guidelines aim to address this problem early, at the grant proposal stage. Many researchers believe that use of females will hamper research because of the need for increased sample sizes, and increased costs. Here I review empirical research across multiple rodent species and traits that demonstrates that females are not more variable than males, and that for most traits, female estrous cyclicity need not be considered...
October 2018: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Zhimin Song, Manu Kalyani, Jill B Becker
Sex differences exist in the motivation for sexual behavior, food, parental care and motivation to take drugs. There are also sex differences in the likelihood of exhibiting motivational disorders such as anhedonia, depression, addictive behavior, and eating disorders. This brief review summaries recent studies on sex differences in all motivated behaviors in social and non-social contexts, focusing on animal models. We also discuss the roles of gonadal hormones and the nonapeptides (nine amino acid peptides) in modulating sex differences in motivation...
October 2018: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Karyn M Frick, Jaekyoon Kim, Wendy A Koss
Estrogens influence nearly every aspect of hippocampal function, including memory formation. Although this research has traditionally focused on ovariectomized females, more recent work is providing insights into the ways in which estrogens regulate hippocampal function in both sexes. This review provides an overview of estrogenic regulation of hippocampal function in female and male rodents, with a particular emphasis on memory formation. Where applicable, we discuss the involvement of specific estrogen receptors and molecular mechanisms that mediate these effects...
October 2018: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Emily G Jacobs, Jill M Goldstein
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
October 2018: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
John Meitzen, Robert L Meisel, Paul G Mermelstein
The striatal brain regions, including the caudate-putamen, nucleus accumbens core, and nucleus accumbens shell, mediate critical behavioral functions. These functions include but are not limited to motivated behavior, reward, learning, and sensorimotor function in both pathological and normal contexts. The phenotype and/or incidence of all of these behaviors either differ by sex or are sensitive to the presence of gonadal hormones such as 17β-estradiol and testosterone. All three striatal brain regions express membrane-associated estrogen receptors...
October 2018: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Scott Cheng-Hsin Yang, Daniel M Wolpert, Máté Lengyel
A key component of interacting with the world is how to direct ones' sensors so as to extract task-relevant information - a process referred to as active sensing. In this review, we present a framework for active sensing that forms a closed loop between an ideal observer, that extracts task-relevant information from a sequence of observations, and an ideal planner which specifies the actions that lead to the most informative observations. We discuss active sensing as an approximation to exploration in the wider framework of reinforcement learning, and conversely, discuss several sensory, perceptual, and motor processes as approximations to active sensing...
October 2018: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Natalie C Tronson
Recent work on sex differences in learning and memory has demonstrated that females and males differ in cognitive and behavioral strategies, as well as neural mechanisms required to learn, retrieve and express memory. Although our understanding of the mechanisms of memory is highly sophisticated, this work is based on male animals. As such, the study of female memory is narrowed to a comparison with behavior and mechanisms defined in males, resulting in findings of male-specific mechanisms but little understanding of how females learn and store information...
October 2018: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Katherine N Wright, Mohamed Kabbaj
Sub-anesthetic ketamine produces rapid antidepressant effects in patients with bipolar and unipolar major depression where conventional monoaminergic-based antidepressant drugs have been ineffective or ridden with side effects. A single ketamine infusion can produce antidepressant effects lasting up to two weeks, and multiple ketamine infusions prolong this effect. Pre-clinical studies are underway to uncover ketamine's mechanisms of action, but there are still many questions unanswered regarding the safety of its long-term use...
October 2018: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Brittany F Osborne, Alexandra Turano, Jaclyn M Schwarz
While sex differences in the peripheral immune response have been studied extensively, sex differences in the neuroimmune response, including glial activation and associated cytokine production in the brain, is a recently emerging field. Advances in our understanding of sex differences in the neuroimmune response have important implications for understanding how neural circuits are shaped during early brain development, how activation of the immune system may impact cognitive function and behavior, and how inflammation may be associated with the risk of mental health disorders that have strong sex-biases...
October 2018: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Mary M Heitzeg, Jillian E Hardee, Adriene M Beltz
Adolescence is a period associated with the initiation and escalation of substance use and is also a time during which substantial changes take place in neural development, personality and behavior. Although rates of substance use between adolescent girls and boys do not differ substantially, there is evidence for sex differences in underlying vulnerability pathways associated with the development of substance use disorder. Here we review sex differences in adolescent brain development and how these differences may contribute to different risk pathways between females and males that emerge during this developmental period...
October 2018: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Maria Ironside, Poornima Kumar, Min-Su Kang, Diego A Pizzagalli
Acute and chronic stress have dissociable effects on reward sensitivity, and a better understanding of these effects promises to elucidate the pathophysiology of stress-related disorders, particularly depression. Recent preclinical and human findings suggest that stress particularly affects reward anticipation; chronic stress perturbates dopamine signaling in the medial prefrontal cortex and ventral striatum; and such effects are further moderated by early adversities. Additionally, a systems-level approach is uncovering the interplay among striatal, limbic and control networks giving rise to stress-related, blunted reward sensitivity...
August 2018: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Nils Kolling, Jill X O'Reilly
Different kinds of decision making can be categorized by their differential effect on the agent's current and future states as well as the computational challenges they pose. Here, we draw a distinction between within-state and state-change decision-making, and propose that a dedicated decision mechanism exists in dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) that is specialized for state-change decisions. We set out a formal framework in which state change decisions may be made on the basis of the integrated momentary reward rate, over the intended time to be spent in a state...
August 2018: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Chloe L Slaney, Claire A Hales, Emma S J Robinson
Loss of interest in rewarding activities is a hallmark of many psychiatric disorders and may be relevant for neurodegenerative disorders and patients suffering from brain injury. There is increasing evidence that deficits in reward-related behaviour are more complex than previously described. The traditional view of anhedonia as 'the inability to experience pleasure' may be too limited to fully encompass the types of reward deficit observed in these patients. Developments in methods to measure different aspects of reward processing in humans and animals are starting to provide insights into the complexity of this behaviour...
August 2018: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
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